HOMILY: Thursday after Ash Wednesday. Making Choices and Being Made New in the Process
mortal bodies because of his Spirit who dwells in you\" (Rom. 8:11). (2 Cor. 4:14.)
"Pressing upon the Christian to be sure, are the need and the duty to battle against evil through manifold tribulations and even to suffer death. But, linked with the paschal mystery and patterned on the dying Christ, he will hasten forward to resurrection in the strength which comes from hope." (Phil. 3:19; Rom. 8:17.)
With His outstretched arms on the Cross, Jesus freely chose love and bridged the gap between heaven and earth. In His triumph over death he defeated the last enemy and began the new creation. In His Sacred humanity this man Jesus shows each of us how to live differently. Through His Saving Life, Death and Resurrection, he capacitates us by grace to live differently ourselves, to grow in holiness, to be remade in His image and likeness. We are not only saved from - sin, death and separation - we are saved FOR, a new way of living! To be a Christian is a new way of being human; to live and to love as Jesus.
We are invited during Lent to embrace even that which we do not want - or like - yes even suffering - as the means of this transformation. We have been given the grace to accept all difficulties. In fact, they can become, when embraced in love, a path to our continuing redemption. The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin." (Hebrews 14:15)
The Christian tradition insists that even undeserved and unmerited suffering, when joined in love to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, can produce extraordinary fruit within us and around us. This is the mystery of suffering in the Christian life. Saint Jose Maria Escriva once wrote "The great Christian revolution has been to convert pain into fruitful suffering and to turn a bad thing into something good. We have deprived the devil of this weapon; and with it we can conquer eternity.\"
How do we treat those circumstances that cause us to struggle? How do we deal with what we find unpleasant? Do we practice an "adult" form of avoidance and run, acting as if it will all just go away like when children cover their eyes? Or do we believe that even unpleasant things and even "difficult" people can actually be gifts from the hands of a loving God who invites us to walk in the way of His Son? How do we deal with unresolved conflicts or troubling relationships?
Do we work toward resolution, making "love our aim" (1 Cor. 14:1) or do we avoid them, thinking they will just go away if we pretend they don't exist? What is our attitude toward suffering, struggle and difficulty in life? This day, let us ask for God's grace to choose life and live; to choose the way of redemptive love, following the Way of Jesus. Let us pick up our cross, and walk in the path of the One whose choice on our behalf secured our true freedom, and find the Way to making choices which not only affect the world around us - but change us in the process.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: choice, freedom, moral life, life and death, virtue, holiness, lent, Deacon Keith Fournier
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